The weight of words

It’s Monday. I’ve noticed the general population has a distaste for Monday.  It means the restart of routine and a work week. Unless you love what you do with every fiber of your being, I can see the struggle there. And then there’s me, I love Mondays in my new life.  Mondays mean my mother’s day off. Mondays mean Bianca is here an hour longer than she is the rest of the week. Mondays mean I can emotionally and spiritually recharge from the stresses I’ve let go of from the week before.

Except, not this Monday.

Bianca had an obligation from before she started working for me and has been gone since Thursday. I’m so glad she got to do something other than sit with me all weekend and she’s told me she’s having a great time. I like to hear that because she is amazing and she deserves it.

However, I had a weekend that has left me struggling to recover and teetering on edge.  So, on this Monday, I am sitting in my living room alone with the breeze from the open windows coming in, music on that makes me feel safe and I’m just going to write this out in hopes that I’ll feel the weight lifted.

In an effort to cover B’s three shifts, the agency that runs my building had one of the overnight staff people cover them.  We’ll call this person “C.” There are two overnight people who work here.  One of them works Sunday through Wednesday and the other works Thursday through Saturday.  One of them has helped me before, the other has never helped me.  Nothing against her, I just don’t seem to stay up late on the nights she works.  So when it came time for covering shifts, I was given C, the one who has never helped me before.  I am not great with new people, I will be the first person to admit that; but I am always open-minded and willing to teach someone what I need.  I went into this figuring it would be interesting, a new learning experience for both of us, and it would be just fine.

Day one: C walks in here and I ask her not to touch my front door while it opens and closes or it won’t lock and thus will open on its own and my cat will get out. It only stays open for ten seconds, so it’s not much of a wait.  She listened.  It was going to be fine. How someone reacts when I tell them not to touch the door is a good indicator for how well they’ll listen to me when I’m trying to show them what I need.  We’re good. Or so I thought.

“I’m scared of ALL animals” is the first thing she tells me after she comes inside.  Everyone has something they’re afraid of, so I can understand this. However, I have a cat who has the kind of personality which makes her believe that anytime someone comes into this apartment, they are here to play with her.  Sunny loves to play and just wants to be your friend.  This was going to be a problem for the next three days.  It was a problem in a matter of minutes. Anytime Sunny would start to come near her, C would start to freak out. I spent the entirety of the next two days trying to keep Sunny away from her. It stressed me out to my core and I feel like that isn’t something I should have had to deal with in our own house.  I tried to let it go and just be grateful there was someone to help me, but then there was all the other little things… I told her the stove was electric and she responded by asking me if she needed a lighter to light it.  No.  She thought it was weird that I don’t eat meat and I don’t drink anything other than water during the day after I’ve had coffee or tea with breakfast.  So what?  When I needed help in the bathroom, she talked down to me like I was a child.  When I tried to focus on something to curb my stress, I decided to work in  my art journal and she watched my every move.  I should have known by this point not to do something like that which is so private for me. When it came time for her to help me in bed and leave, I kindly reminded her again to wait for my door to close without touching it. I prayed she would do just that even though I wasn’t watching this time.

Day two:  I wake up to my mother walking into my apartment asking, “Is the cat in the bedroom with you?”  No, she’s not.  Since moving here, Sunny rarely sleeps in my room.  She likes having the living room to herself at night to cause chaos. Turns out my front door did not lock because C must have touched it, my guess would be out of fear of the cat.  This meant that my front door was wide open when my mother got here and therefore, wide open all night long.  My cat was gone.  Waking up in immediate panic is terrifying, luckily the cat came home when she saw my mother and all she brought with her was a dead cricket.  But this was still a scary situation for me because I had no idea the door was open.  Anyone could have come in here during the night and stolen my things or worse could have hurt me.  I am grateful that neither one of these things happened.  Thank you, God.

After this incident, I sent C a text message telling her what happened and that I wouldn’t be letting her in that day. She’d have to get my spare key and let herself in and out with that. She proceeded to ask me why I didn’t tell her the door was open during the night. Um… because I didn’t know? I cannot see my front door from my bed.  She then proceeded to blame me and my cat (“Sunny is the one who opened it!”) for what happened and stated that when she left the door was closing. Which just proved to me that she didn’t bother to wait the ten seconds for it to close and probably touched or moved it slightly as she was leaving.  Once she blamed my cat, I was shaking in rage and couldn’t even respond.  I couldn’t handle her for another shift so I was grateful I had arranged for my mother to cover Monday.

Day two went a little easier.  She let herself in with the key and I stayed curled up in bed with my cat for the first couple hours of her shift watching Harry Potter.  I didn’t bother to have her help me in the bathroom again because I didn’t want to feel less than myself.  Dinner rolled around and she was completely baffled that I “actually don’t eat that much food.”  Maybe she didn’t mean it in a harmful way, and maybe I am over-sensitive, but the way she said this really got to me.  The day before she judged me for being a vegetarian and not having anything other than water in my fridge. The next day she was genuinely surprised that I don’t overeat.  Yes, we make extravagant food AND dessert in my kitchen often, but I rarely overdo it. I just… I felt like she was expecting that because I am overweight, that must mean I eat a ton of food that is bad for me.  I don’t.

I am overweight.

I am aware of this.  I do my best to make it easier and better for myself and it takes a lot of time and a lot of work.  Comments from the last few days made me feel like I needed to explain to people that most of the reason I am overweight is because it is difficult for me to move my body without assistance and has very little to do with what I do (or don’t) eat. Much like having to restrict my cat in the house, I felt like this is something I should never have to explain to someone who doesn’t know me.  The words really hurt me.

Remember when I contributed to The Conversation?  I’ve felt like that ten year old girl inside me these last few days and I’ve been unable to talk her down from that ledge. I’m in a terrible emotional place now and I don’t like it. I’m hoping by acknowledging it, it’ll be easier to light the way out.  Recently, I came to the defense of someone being bullied on the internet and a stranger said to me, “Words don’t hurt, they really don’t.”  This statement has stuck with me ever since.  How glad I am that this stranger has never been emotionally scarred by the thoughts of another.  Some of us don’t have it that easy.

All words carry with them a kind of weight.  All words have the power to be uplifting or destructive to our beings; both forms of weight are strong.  Kind and positive words have a strength that lifts us into the light and nurtures the truest forms of ourselves.  Words that come with them an intent to hurt have a weight that is soul-crushing. It is far too easy to let negativity eat your confidence from the inside out.  We must encourage each other.  We must not let this negativity continue to happen and recognize the value of humanity.

And this is where I’ve been.  Those words said to me have been eating me alive.  I don’t like it.  I got angry at myself because I let this person hurt me.  I gave them that power to say “Hey, you’re less than this. I feel bad about my life choices so I’m going to make sure you feel bad too.”  Why? Why am I so sensitive that I allowed this to happen?  I’ve been beating myself up for it and it needs to stop now.  I know I am better than what I allow someone else to make me feel.  I just need to find that place again.

Breathe.  Stay focused. In the meantime, share twice the kindness for half of how dark it feels.

B will be back tomorrow and if I haven’t found it by then, I hope a sense of normalcy will follow.